Ookla’s Speedtest maps – originally only available in the Android app – have now come to the iOS one, too. This lets you see at-a-glance how different mobile carriers compare in your area, as well as identify problem spots …
Ookla says there are three main ways people use the feature:
- If you’re looking to use your brand-new 5G phone on an upcoming vacation, you can check the map to see if your operator had 5G service in that location.
- If you consistently find yourself dropping calls in the same spot on your daily walk, you can check our map to see if others who use the same provider are experiencing the same thing in the same area. Then you can take that information to your operator to ask them to improve service in that area.
- If you’re looking to change operators, you can check to see who has the kind of service you need in the locations you visit most often.
To use it, tap the Maps tab and you’ll see one of the carriers at the bottom. Slide that up to change to a different carrier to see how their coverage compares.
You can also see the difference between theory and practice. Carriers love to quote their fastest speeds, even if those are only available in a few small patches here and there. Slide down from the top to switch between Best and Most Common speeds.
More realistic latency
Although download and upload speeds are of course the main thing people like to measure, there’s one other important number that can have a big impact on your experience: latency. This is a measure of how long it takes a server to respond to your request in the first place.
The app has always measured this, but the number could be misleading because latency can increase in line with your internet load. The company now carries out three separate pings, giving latency figures for each:
- Idle Ping. This test at the beginning of your Speedtest measures the response of a request on your network as if it is not in use.
- Download Ping. Latency is measured while the download test is in progress to see how it is affected by download activity on your network, like a household member downloading a large game while you’re trying to work.
- Upload Ping. Latency is also measured while the upload test is in progress to see how it is affected by upload activity on your network, like someone on your home network uploading a year’s worth of photos.
You can download the Speedtest app here. When it asks for permissions, grant permission for location-sharing “when using the app” if you want to help contribute to the maps without allowing any broader tracking.
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